Ask a Question
Notify Me On Question Update
Email this Question
What's killing Spruce and Pine trees in Utah?
Rate This FAQ
After more than five years of drought, some of Utah’s native trees are suffering
from prolonged stress. Dry soil in the spring and fall when supplemental irrigation is
typically absent is especially stressful to trees.
In addition, a native group of bark beetles called Ips beetles are attacking spruce
and pine trees in ornamental landscape settings (parks, cemeteries and yards) and nursery
plantings. Native pinyon pines on dry sites are also at risk for infestation by Ips.
Consider the following information to prepare for the upcoming growing season.
* Ips bark beetles are attracted to trees that are under stress. Adult beetles attack in large groups to overcome natural defenses of the trees, such as sap or pitch production. Ips bark beetles live in forested areas of the state, primarily as secondary invaders of trees that are injured and dying from other causes. Now they are beginning to behave as primary invaders, however, killing pinyon pines on dry sites in their native habitat as well as stressed spruce and pine trees, such as those that are inadequately irrigated deep into the root zone, too closely planted, on a poor planting site or stressed from other pests.
* Adult Ips beetles attack spruce and pine trees from spring through fall, entering smaller diameter limbs at the tops first. They can move down the trunk within several months, killing the tree. Other trees nearby are especially at risk of attack. Adults feed in the conductive tissues of the cambium just under the bark creating their characteristic tunnels or galleries. They disrupt the transport of nutrients and water throughout the tree. Life cycles of Ips beetles require six to eight weeks, so up to five generations can occur in a season.
* The most helpful strategy to prevent attack by bark beetles is to avoid stressing trees. Maintain tree vigor and health by watering deeply two to four inches every two to four weeks when soil moisture is depleted from spring through fall. Select a suitable planting site, avoiding dry sites with excessive sand or gravel. Also avoid tree injuries or infestation by other pests.
* Promptly remove trees heavily infested with Ips beetles and dispose of infested wood or treat the wood. To do this, remove all the bark, chip and dry thoroughly and burn it or completely cover it with a clear plastic tarp to generate lethal temperatures. You can protect uninfested trees or lightly infested trees by applying a registered insecticide to the entire trunk or bole. This may require a professional applicator with equipment to reach the tops of tall trees. A drenching spray applied to run-off is necessary to soak cracks and crevices of tree bark. Recommended insecticides are carbaryl (Sevin) and permethrin. The best times to treat are from late April to early May or late September to October when more synchronized populations of adult beetles are flying to new trees.
For more information, refer to two fact sheets on spruce and pine Ips on the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands website: http://www.ffsl.utah.gov/id.php.
Submit Your Suggestion
Other Questions In This Topic
- Do you test soil?
- Do you have tips on firewise landscaping?
- When is the best time to seed native grasses such as streambank and western wheatgrass into an existing Kentucky Bluegrass lawn? Some of what I've read leads me to believe that it would be best to seed in late fall so the seed will germinate in the spring. But I wonder if it would be better to seed in early fall after stressing the KBG. I will also be seeding sheep fescue, but I've seen conflicting information on whether that is native or introduced. My goal is to have a lawn that can survive with no water, and stay green with very little water.
- I have read that one should water infrequently and then water to penetrate 6 to 10 inches especially if one has necrotic ring spot. I live in Sandy where the top soil is only four inches and then sand and rock. Does it make sense to water 6 to 8 inches? Also does necrotic ring spot live in sandy rocky soil? Is it possible to control or eliminate the necrotic ring spot by using a service or must I excavate and if so to what extent?
- I am actually in Colorado, I am interested in the zone(s) in Eden. I am designing a landscape there and want to plant accordingly. I, also, am interested in a list of noxious plants, I'd like to avoid them. Thank You!
- I have 30 acres of dry farm high on the west side of cache valley and would like like to cover it with many trees that are likely to survive and will eventually provide shade. What should I plant?
- I have 2 cottonless cottonwoods in my back yard. They are both about 7 years old. I noticed this spring that the trees have really grown tall but on the main limbs in the middle of the trees there are no limbs coming from them. I also find little pieces of new branches all over my lawn like they have come off right at the base where they connect to the tree. There are also at those points little scabs of some kind right where the branch has broken off. What is wrong and can I save these trees? I grew this kind of tree because they are fast growing trees and I wanted to enjoy some shade while I was still around to enjoy it. I am so afraid that there is something seriously wrong and those years will be lost. Can you help me with the info I have given you? I would appreciate it so much if you have an idea of what is wrong and what I can do to fix it.
- I live at an elevation of 6000ft. I am West of Cedar City in the mountains. I would like to know, what is the best low water and high traffic grass I should plant. I would like the type of grass that will stay green as early and as long as possible as well. Thank You Also, any good shade varieties?